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India Wednesday sharply reacted to Nepal’s new official map that includes disputed territories, saying “such artificial enlargement of territorial claims will not be accepted”. Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Oli said in Parliament that he was going to retrieve the land. Oli also said the Indian strain of coronavirus was more lethal than the Chinese. Army Chief M.M. Naravane had last week, without naming the neighbour, hinted that Nepal’s objection to the inauguration of a road to the Lipu Lekh Pass may have been prompted by China.

ThePrint asks: Nepal map row: Has India provoked Kathmandu or is China instigating trouble for New Delhi?


India has escalated tensions with Nepal and China is party to it

Kanak Mani Dixit
Senior Nepali journalist

This is a clear case of India having provoked Kathmandu. In fact, China is very much a party to this affair, on India’s side.

Nepal has historically regarded the 335 sq km triangle (Limpiyadhura-Kalapani-Lipu Lekh) as its territory, defined by the Sugauli Treaty with the East India Company, which has not been superseded. A bilateral foreign secretary-level committee exists to resolve Nepal-India frontier disputes, and Nepal has been demanding talks for years. Kathmandu had also sought to send a special envoy to Delhi in early December.

South Block has remained unresponsive to all approaches. Instead, India carried out four escalatory actions in a row. First, in May 2015 it signed an agreement with China to use the Lipu Lekh Pass for trade; Kathmandu immediately protested to both New Delhi and Beijing. Second, in November 2019 India published a new map that showed Kalapani within its territory. Third, India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a road link to Lipu Lekh amid Covid-19 and an ongoing political crisis in Kathmandu. Fourth was the statement by Indian Army Chief General M.M. Naravane, implying China had instigated Nepal to lay claims on the area.

We need immediate status quo in the Limpiyadhura triangle to help de-escalation between Nepal and India.


Nepal’s revised map an unfortunate attempt to artificially expand its territorial claims

Ashok Kantha
Former Indian Ambassador to China

I don’t see any provocation coming from India through construction of this road to facilitate Kailash-Mansarovar pilgrimage via the Lipu Lekh Pass. This area has historically been part of India which has been exercising effective control over it.

One may recall that the Lipu Lekh Pass was one of the border passes in the agreement on trade with Tibet, signed by India and China in 1954. In 1962, we closed the Lipu Lekh Pass, but in 1981, under a bilateral understanding with China, Kailash-Mansarovar pilgrimage was resumed through the Pass. In 1991, India and China restarted border trade across the Lipu Lekh Pass under another bilateral agreement. The alignment which our pilgrims and traders have been following for accessing the Pass has been made motorable now.

The Chinese have acknowledged the Lipu Lekh Pass as falling on the India-China boundary/LAC and signed agreements to conduct trade and pilgrimage with India through this pass. Limpiyadhura, which Nepal is now claiming, is on the India-China boundary, rather than Nepal-China boundary.

Nepal’s revised map is an unfortunate attempt to artificially expand its territorial claims. Perhaps this unwarranted move is linked to domestic politics, or it has been made due to nudging by China, or both. I don’t want to speculate. There are reports suggesting that China has been interfering in Nepal’s internal affairs, most recently through intervention by the Chinese ambassador to shore up support for the Oli government.


Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Oli is aggressively playing the China card against India

Kanwal Sibal
Executive council member, VIF, and former foreign secretary

Nepal publishing a map that shows Indian territory in the Kalapani area as belonging to it is highly ill-advised. It has created a situation from which it cannot step back. The diplomatic route to a solution has been jettisoned. India has summarily dismissed Nepal’s artificial claims to its territory. Nepal’s decision to
aggressively bring to the fore a sensitive territorial issue, which involves the route to Lipu Lekh Pass and the India-China-Nepal trijunction, is a serious provocation. It touches on India’s defence and security against China.

Nepal citing a new Indian map showing Kalapani in India to justify its decision distorts facts, as Indian maps have always shown this area as Indian. Intriguingly, China had similarly protested when India issued a new map showing changed internal boundaries in the north, after separation of Ladakh from Jammu and Kashmir. This suggests some Nepal-China connivance.

Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Oli, stubborn and unabashedly pro-China, is responsible for this development. He is playing even more aggressively the China card against India, which is an enduring feature of Nepal’s policy. He is mismanaging relations with India by adopting a virulent anti-Indian posture to help him in handling internal
dissensions.


Inappropriate to say China instigating Nepal against India. Nepal has border dispute with China too

Kamal Dev Bhattarai
Political editor, The Annapurna Express, Kathmandu

The Nepal-India border boundary dispute is becoming more complicated with more hardened positions being adopted by both sides. This is because of the lack of negotiations on time. For the longest time, both sides have recognised that there are boundary disputes in Susta and Kalapani. During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal in 2014, both sides agreed to instruct their foreign secretaries to take up the matter.

In 2015, India and China agreed to boost border trade via Lipu Lekh, without consulting Nepal. Nepal strongly objected to the move and sent diplomatic notes to India and China. China promptly responded, but India remained silent. China said that there was room for improvement, and if necessary, it was ready to revise the India-China agreement. Despite the understanding that it is a disputed territory, India took unilateral steps one after another, from releasing map in November 2019 to inaugurating roads which made matters worse.

The statement made by Indian Army Chief M.M. Naravane last week was totally inappropriate. Nepal is taking up border disputes with China as well. It is inappropriate to say that China is instigating Nepal. Instead, Nepal feels that two giant neighbours, India and China, are taking unilateral decisions on Nepali territory. Nepal has issued the new map Wednesday with sufficient historical proofs in hand, including the Sugauli Treaty of 1816.

As far as Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Oli’s coronavirus remark is concerned, I think he was trying to say that people who came from China and other countries showed mild symptoms, but people traveling from India possess strong symptoms. Still, what Oli spoke about virus and other bilateral issues was inappropriate. Immediate dialogue without any pre-condition is the only way forward.


India, Nepal never worked on the agreed mechanism to solve the dispute. Road ahead only gets difficult

Nayanima Basu
Diplomacy Editor, ThePrint

This is a case of misunderstanding between two friends who share open borders and free movement of people. While most of the border issues have been settled between both the countries, the disputed areas of Kalapani and Susta remained unresolved.

Both sides had an understanding that the issue had to be resolved politically. But that never happened. The matter was kept on the back burner for long, before the Narendra Modi government came to power in May 2014.

The high-level dialogue mechanism, consisting of foreign secretaries of both the countries, to settle Kalapani and other issues was finalised by then external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj during her visit to Nepal in July 2014. This was subsequently committed by Prime Minister Modi when he first visited the Himalayan country in August 2014.

However, the agreed mechanism never saw light of the day. The inauguration of the new road to Kailash Mansarovar and Nepal PM Oli’s statement Wednesday, has left the relations strained. Now, even if both sides meet, as India had promised to meet after the Covid crisis, not much room is left for any kind of compromise or maneuvering.

As relations with Nepal become strained, India is facing additional pressure from China now concerning repeated incidents of scuffles in the border areas.


Also read: India’s support to probe Covid origin: Pressure to join anti-China group or strategic move?


By Pia Krishnankutty, journalist at ThePrint

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15 Comments Share Your Views

15 COMMENTS

  1. Nepal is tactfully omitting the 1865 arrangement, with Nepali Monarch, which is a part of Sugouli treaty of 1816. Here Indo-Nepal border area was revised from Kalapani headway source to the watershed that leads to Kalapani river. From 1865 onward upto 1947 and from 1947 to up till now that area under dispute is with India. What India inherited is legally done. Now after so long years Nepal’s claim is not tenable. Once Emperor Akbar extended his territory upto Afganistan. Now will India claim that area its own. The ambitious king Pritthi Narayan Shah of Nepal once extended his territory to Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh of India on the west and Sikkim, Darjeeling in the east. After Shah Nepal was reduced to its original size. It will be wrong if Nepal mourns for its past glory.

    • Then some hv to kick Nepal’s arse and bring him out of his dream if not done by India…from last couple of years, these nepalis are becoming a slave of China and playing games against India….

  2. Shouting loudly does not make the reality disappear. Wise action for both would be to have an unbiased bilateral talk supported by proof. Nepal is seeking friendly dialogue for over a decade and India seems to underestimate Nepal’s request for urgent diplomatic talk. Ignored for over a decade and now time to panic. No. India should cool down and go friendly with what Nepal has to say. If this makes sense, there’s no point for India to act unilaterally. Nepal has option to go to international court and UN otherwise.

    • Approaching the International Court of Arbitration won’t solve the issue. For example, on the issue of Spratly islands, Philippines got the judgement but Chinese have refused to evacuate. Nepal cannot make leave Kalapani.

    • Think about if Gurkha army leaves India, India would be probably part of Pakistan or China. You may not be Indian anymore. India is India, it is because Nepali Gurkha Army saving your since India became independent. Either you need to Mind your language or get ready to change your citizenship. Tell me which one you prefer?

      • What??? Lol…India is India because of Nepal😂😂😂😂
        Go and check moron hiw many Indian army men hv died fighting wars with pak and China and from them how many are nepalis??? Only a few handful
        India has 2nd largest standing army and from them how many are nepalis??? Only a few handful
        Nepal is Nepal because of India cuz almost all of your po6is dependent with India since you are a land locked country….Even Indian army is guarding your border with China….Nepal’s gurkha culture is preserved by Indian army or no body gives a fuck about that too….India is India because of it’s 1.2 billion people not some pathetic whinny Chinese slave nation like yours….

  3. Is India capable of annexing another region? Yes. Sikkim is an example where the entire Indian politico-bureacracy machine spun a lie of deceit regarding the Chogyals Chinese friends. Read Smash and Grab, previously banned, for a comprehensive understanding.

    The story of Lipulekh is not as simple as the Indians put out to be. The British did put Lipulekh as part of Nepal in its maps and but then had been eyeing it after realising its importance. Not sure why Nepal didn’t make an effort before after giving this area to India for some border posts.

    Nepal has said its willing to lease the land and its in every one’s best interests to sort this mutually.

  4. Communists will destroy Nepal. It is for Nepalese people to punish K.P.Oli through ballot paper. Otherwise Chinese will effectively make lives of common Nepalese life miserable by straining it’s relationship with India.

    • Check your trade with China first how China is making you dependent and slave. Check and google India-China trade and trade deficit with China. Com’on…it is more than 80 billion US $. Now, I guess you should be well aware that who is loyal to China and becoming puppet of China. I hope you are not stupid. So, google it and check Indian govt. documents LOL

      • Lol,😂😂😂
        What a pathetic joke??? India is India because of nepal😂😂😂??? Come out of your day dream moron…India has 2nd biggest standing army in the world and from them how many nepalis are serving??? Only a few handful….You should thank India that we are giving your people food, place to live and money for serving our country….Ask your PM Oli to take back your amry and nothing will affect us….anyway they are more of mercenaries than army

      • How pathetic and low is your IQ anyway??? How doing trade is making some one slave??? India is a freaking open market and anyone can trade here….Did China involve in internal matters of india??? The answer is NO, unlike Nepal whose prime minister is chosen by China after their diplomats bribe and buy some MLAs…your PM is sitting on the throne o behaste of China….and yes we had trade deficit of 80billion with China…This is not a good thing but isn’t a bad thing either cuz if China behaves aggressive with military, we can use this trade deficit as a weapon to ban all Chinese products unilaterally and can impact a significant economic loss on China….So think out of your brain, not from your arse moron

  5. Very difficult for a citizen of one of the two countries to take a dispassionate, completely impartial view of such a complex issue. One envies FS Kanwal Sibal his ability to see the world in monochromatic, We are always right terms. It may have been a similar world view that prevented India from accepting the graceful compromise formula Premier Zhou Enlai had brought in April 1960, which FS Nirumpa Rao has referred to with hasrat in a recent tweet. That would have changed the dynamic of the India – China dynamic, avoided 1962. 2. The Bihar election, the suggestion to a sovereign state that it should not adopt its Constitution, the blockade, many rocks strewn along the path. No meeting of SAARC after the last summit in Kathmandu so many years ago. Our diplomacy needs to factor in more objectively the force of China’s gravitational field. Geopolitics, military if push comes to shove, trade, investment. After two hundred summits, our foreign policy is all over the place.

  6. Let alone India building a toad in Nepalese territory, now China says India is building a road in its territory north of Ladakh lake, and has warned “necessary countermeasures”. It claimed the Indian army had entered Chinese territory, and was obstructing the normal patrol of Chinese border troops, and was “attempting to unilaterally change the status quo of border territory”.

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